Falling Skies: "Till Death Do We Part" (Season 4, Episode 9)

Flabbergasted

 

Not bad. This one was a little ridiculous in places, but had enough action, special effects and movement to make for a nicely watchable hour of television. Shakespeare it ain’t, but it held its narrative balance better than the more recent episodes. This is the best this show has been since the ghetto escape.

As you may or may not recall, last episode ended with our heroes noticing a green dot on the moon (yes, a green dot on the moon) at the same time a buried Espheni ship called a Beamer (yes, that’s supposed to be humor) buried in rubble started lighting up. It was a nice visual, the pale green light from below adding much needed accents to our standard grey rubble field. Well this week, in the blink of an eye Cochise the Volm translates all that for us: the power source for the entire Espheni occupation force is on the moon.

Yep, it’s that green dot. Every last piece of Espheni hardware on the entire planet is powered by a green dot on the moon. That realization should make Cochise feel all kinds of stupid because the Volm had spaceships and that green dot looks kind of vulnerable. If you have spaceships. Which the 2nd Mass does not.

Or do they? Faster than you can say “Independence Day,” Tom has everyone talking about digging out this Beamer and flying to the moon. He even quotes the famous JFK speech about choosing to go to the moon because it is hard. The only thing that could have made it better is if he’d breathed down a slug of helium first. It’s crazy, but it gives this episode a little energy and drive (this whole season, actually, at long last) and allows for a cool final scene.

So, throughout this episode we’re treated to lots of scenes of people moving rubble. Maggie tries to help, but her newly implanted spikes make her so strong she hurls a chunk of rebar forty feet and almost kills Sara (remember her, Pope’s new squeeze?). Ben volunteers to help Maggie get all her wildly enhanced new capabilities under control.

Cochise says they can speed up the digging with some Volm sonic grenades. Those turn rock into sand, or some such nonsense. He just happens to have a supply cache not far from here, too, one that’s filled with such goodies. They should go get them. Alas, first Tom and Anne have to argue about Lexi. Is she bad? I don’t know. Can she be saved? I don’t know. Is she a boring plot device? You bet’cha. Tom eventually concludes the argument by getting Anne to agree that faith is her department, while hope is his. The distinction is kind of murky. This much we do know, however, after last week—Tom must have feathers. Not sure about faith.

Tom, Anne, Matt and Colonel Weaver set off with Cochise to find his cache of weapons. Its located in an abandoned industrial site that has lethal concentrations of chlorine in the air all around. So everyone but Cochise dons breathing masks. Cochise explains that the Volm can breathe both air and chlorine. Sure they can. The only thing that could have made his saying that sound better is if he, too, breathed down a slug of helium first.

Back at camp, Pope is arguing with Sara. He’s finding an excuse to drive her away because he “doesn’t want to let anyone in.” Ugh. More interesting is Ben’s training of Maggie. They start off with a trust exercise where he holds her hand while they jump off a forty foot drop, then progress to target practice with her shooting, jumping and sliding in a gymnastic routine worthy of every Honk Kong cop movie ever filmed. It's slick.

Of course Matt runs into Mera, his little girlfriend from Nazi Youth Camp who helped him escape. Tom isn’t buying her story about graduating (is there a diploma for that?) and ties her up. Of course Matt frees her. And of course she turns out to have been brainwashed after all and blows one of those shrill whistles calling in a Beamer. It swoops in low to drop some bombs. Then the Espheni Hogwarts Nazis start shooting their way in.

Ben and Maggie’s spikes start to glow. They can feel each others thoughts, which amplifies Ben’s crush on her. Unable to handle it, Maggie kisses him, then apologizes. Ben nobly steps back. Of course Hal was ambling by and saw that.

The fight against the Nazis is actually good. Lots of nice visuals, including a wall of fire set off from some chemical waste. Cochise puts a Volm stun weapon and its pleasant purple crackles to good use as well. And in a case of closing loose ends, Head Nazi Youth Guy from a few episodes ago leads the attack. He also gets some belated character development. Seems he’s been brainwashed most of all, really believes this crap. He wants to help Tom: “Progress is made when we embrace our Espheni brothers.” He dies a true believer to the end. It’s honestly poignant. That stupid Nazi Youth Camp finally produced a worthwhile cinematic moment.

Ben finds Hal. Hal asks if those spikes in his back help him heal faster. Ben says yes, they do. Hal says “Good” and punches him in the face. There's some humor that works.

Everyone's still digging away at that Beamer. Sara has left the camp. Pope feels bad. I hope we never see her again. Her character is awful.

Oh, and Cochise lost the sonic grenades in all that Nazi Youth excitement. Darn the luck.

Tom, Anne, Matt, Cochise and Colonel Weaver trudge back through more ground suddenly filled with snow from nowhere. It doesn’t make sense, but it does look pretty. Almost Norman Rockwellesque, if he did guerilla wars, that is. Good camerawork.

The end sequence is Tom asking Anne to marry him. I honestly thought they were already married back when he was President of Charleston. Colonel Weaver conducts the ceremony because… Just because. A Volm named Shaq then steals the scene. He comes up out of the buried Beamer and trudges over to say he must speak with Tom Mason right when it’s time to kiss the bride. Weaver protests.

Shaq’s priceless response? “You may resume your ritual after we speak.” The interruption is actually worth it, too. Shaq has taken the whistle they picked up from Mera, broken down its interface with the Beamers, and reprogrammed it. Sounds silly, I know, but at least they didn’t have some stupid human like Dingamaan do that. Anyway, Shaq blows the whistle and I’ll be darned if the Beamer doesn’t go off and fully power up. It rises out of the debris to hover overhead, looking way cooler than any alien device on this show has ever looked.

Shaq has style. And we’re going to the moon, people.    

You may resume that ritual off-screen now.

 

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